In response to our query to HMRC on the impact of COVID-19 on the letters HMRC have been sending to taxpayers with offshore assets, income or gains (which are based on information HMRC receive through exchange of information agreements with overseas jurisdictions), we have received the following reply from HMRC.
"We know this is a difficult time for many of our customers and we continue to be here to support them.
We aren’t changing the deadline that we have set out in the letters to customers, relating to their offshore income, assets and gains, which we sent out at the end of February. If any customer is unable to meet the 30 day deadline then they should call the number provided on the letter. Customers circumstances will vary, and those who need more time to gather information should let us know, and we will continue to take a reasonable and proportionate approach to such requests. HMRC continue to be available to deal with responses, queries and disclosures throughout this period.
We do not have any letters scheduled to go out over the coming month, however, we regularly review our plans for correspondence and expect to continue to send letters to customers related to their offshore affairs in due course.
If customers are concerned about being able to pay their tax because of COVID-19, we can agree ‘Time to Pay’ arrangements with them. We agree these on a case-by-case basis and tailor them to meet individual circumstances.
We’ve set up a dedicated helpline for dealing with Time to Pay arrangements. Any customer who needs help or wants to talk about their options can phone us on 0800 024 1222. Lines are open from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and we have 2,000 staff ready to help.
For more information about Coronavirus COVID-19 online please go to www.gov.uk and search for ‘Coronavirus COVID-19’."
For some background to and information about HMRC’s letters and some guidance to help members decide the most appropriate way to respond if a client receives one of the letters see our website post on 16 March 2020 here. An example of a recent letter and certificate of tax position is also provided.